FF: Describe your family.
GL: The family is made up of my wife Vivian and I (both 33 y.o. married almost 7 years), daughter Zoe (10 1/2 months), and our soft-coated wheaten terrier Colbie (4 years or is that 28 in dog years?).
FF: How has fatherhood changed you?
GL: I think fatherhood has enhanced my interpretation of joy. Through the challenging early goings of being new parents (with my wife Vivian BY FAR doing the most heavy lifting!) I think we grew to appreciate the small victories like when she first cooed, giggled, or slept through the night. Even just returning home from after a long work day and seeing my daughter’s face or just dancing with her in the living room bring me the most satisfaction and joy. I think it also helped me to have a higher appreciation for my own mom and dad and has given me a new viewpoint of the immense love of God. I sometimes find myself pondering how my love for Zoe is completely eclipsed by God’s mighty love for me and that truth blows me away every time.
FF: What mistakes have you made as a dad? Name at least one and talk about what it meant to you.
GL: Over protectiveness is one of my many mistakes. I guess another result of fatherhood for me is an increased sense of fear for my daughter’s well being. There have been situations where in my anxiety and panic I have spoken a bit harsh or unfairly to Vivian. For instance if I thought a piece of food was too big for Zoe to swallow, I would in a panicked-tone question Vivian why she would give that to her (clearly it probably wasn’t too big. I’m just a freak!). I’m trying to get better, thanks for being patient Viv! I think another mistake would be to take better care of my wife Vivian. I think I some arguments we’ve had stemmed from communication or just the lack of simply asking Viv on how I can help.
FF: What’s the most helpful advice you heard when you were becoming a father or advice you’ve gained since you’ve been a father?
GL: I think people gave us a healthy fear of anticipating the challenges in the first few months. I think that helped us prepare for the nightly feedings and sleepless nights. A realization for me was understanding the statement “they grow up so fast!”. Zoe’s only 10 1/2 months and everyday it seems like she has learned to do something new or something about her has changed (i.e. teeth). So advice I give now to parents is “Don’t blink or you will miss something!!”.
FF: How do you attend to your relationship with your wife outside of your being parents, and has parenting changed your marriage?
GL: People told us how important “date-nights” are for parents and we try to set aside time to connect and concentrate on our relationship. When there is time we try to do things together like workout in the house, take walks, or watch a favorite show. I definitely think our relationship has changed as a result of being parents. I think we both cherish the time we have alone and are more communicative.
FF: What are some of the things you’ve struggled with as a relatively new father? What are some of the things that have given you the most joy?
GL: I think adjusting to new routines as a result of fatherly responsibilities is a general struggle. Also another big struggle is balancing my friendships. I think it takes much more planning and intentionality to get together with friends and its hard at times to relate to friends that live generally care-free lives. The most joy I experience is in small things as I mentioned before. When Zoe learns how to wave, or clap, or just laughs and giggles it makes me proud and happy.
FF: Would you be willing to talk about how your faith has been shaped or changed in the process of you and Vivian becoming parents?
GL: There were some really dark times for us as we struggled for a number of years with our inability to conceive. As couples around us became pregnant and other families grew, we often times felt envious, isolated, and alone in our struggles. It was a load to bear and our focus and anxiety on conceiving became an unhealthy obsession that damaged our faith. It was only after we begun to share our difficulties with others that we realized our situation was not uncommon and as we reached out to others for support we felt the “body of Christ” and its loving embrace for us in our time of need.
During one Sunday (Check out the podcast on thenewcom.com from 11/21/2010 towards the end 45 min or so in) where Viv and I were probably feeling the least hopeful, Pastor Peter preached on Jonah and talked about “rival gods” and how anything that we tell ourselves we “must” have is our real God and idol. As he was preaching, I could not help to think that even our “good” and “reasonable” desires to have children was keeping our selves away from God. Our “idol” was in having a baby and I realized that my hope was in our future family and not Christ. After the sermon, Peter asked for people to come up and pray. Without talking to each other or hesitation, both Viv and I stood up, walked to the front, and were in tears. That moment confirmed to Viv and I where our hearts and minds were and that we were going to try to be, from that point on, ok with whatever God had planned for us. Child or no child. We both wanted God without condition and with an undivided heart despite our circumstances.
Little did we know, God was about to give us miraculous news. Three days later, right before thanksgiving we confirmed that we were expecting. God has a funny sense of timing and I truly believe that our journey was meant to be a testimony of how even the “good” things we naturally desire have the ability to wrestle our hearts away from the God who loves and desires our undivided hearts.
Now when I think of God while holding my daughter I am reminded of our family’s journey and know that as much as I love Zoe that my ultimate source of my joy, love, and salvation is in my God. I hope to teach my Zoe that truth one day.
FF: What surprises are there along the way for parents? What do you wish you were told to expect?
GL: I would say that the surprises are in the amount changes to your own life, personality, and character are so many that after being a parent you may never comprehend how life was before your baby. I wish I was told to expect how much baby stuff costs! Yowzas!
FF: What is one recent memory you made with your child?
GL: Swimming with Zoe for the first time. While on vacation in Florida I’ll never forget how Zoe loved being in the pool and her enormous smile as she splashed the water with her hands.